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MOUNTAIN CREEK - A MOUNTAIN HOME
By Marshall McClung
Mountain Creek has always been a mountain home for Murriel Buchanan. Indeed, she has three homes, all built years apart and all within a stone's throw of each other on the headwaters of Mountain Creek in the vicinity of what is known locally as Shope Cove, named for Will Shope.
Murriel was born just below the present location of Mountain Creek Baptist Church. Her father was Bob Shope who was a barber. Her mother died of tuberculosis when Murriel was only seven years old.
Murriel married Earl Buchanan, and the couple had seven children: Hildred Shuler, Ruth Wiggins, Bobby and Bill Buchanan, Jo Ann Greene, Kay Peek, and Jean Davis.
Their first home, shown in the accompanying photograph, was built in 1936 on their part of the 300 acres of Shope property. The house is constructed of poplar logs skidded by steers from the Shope Cove. John Rich, Robert Adams, Arnold Calhoun, Clyde Brooks, and others helped in the construction.
The Buchanans, like most couples in those days, made their living mostly from the land. They had a yoke of oxen and a wooden sled that held a prominent place in their livelihood. They grew a large garden, cornfields, and usually had a dozen or more hogs. The apple orchard contained some old favorites such as Horse Apple, June Apple, Buff, Sour John, and others.
Home improvements were slow in coming in those days, and the Buchanans did not have running water in the home until they built their second house in the 1940's. Incidentally, the N.C. Department of Transportation is currently reconstructing the upper portion of Mountain Creek Road ending at the Buchanan residence. The road is scheduled to be paved at a later date.
Murriel recalled that when they moved to their new home, they hauled what they had in a horse drawn wagon. They had a stove, two beds, a table, and a few chairs. Murriel made most of their clothing on a Singer sewing machine powered by a foot pedal. Murriel credits one of her teachers, Maxie Marr with teaching her a lot about making clothes. Murriel felt Mrs. Marr took extra time with her because she had lost her mother at such an early age.
Many Graham Countians born from the 1940's and earlier wore clothing made from feed or flour sacks, and this writer was no exception. Murriel says they made clothing from feed sacks and from Royster Flour sacks which came from Knoxville.
The third house in which Murriel now lives was built in 1958. The house is sturdy as I can attest, for it withstood a terrific thunderstorm when I was visiting to obtain material for this story.
One of Murriel's fondest stories is her encounter with bears. In earlier days, livestock roamed loose, and it was not unusual for a bear to take a hog or calf from time to time. A bear came close to the house apparently attempting to take some of the livestock. All the menfolks were gone, so Murriel took things into her own hands. She grabbed a .22 caliber rifle and killed the bear which dressed out at 250 pounds. Murriel recalled that she and the children were dragging the bear to the house with a rope when its month flew open causing the children to scatter yelling that the bear was still alive.
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina